From the archives: In Turmoil of Violence and Cyclones is the Simple Knowing That We Have Angels
By Michael H. Brown
Storms swirling about. Devastation. It is a tough time -- but as Joan Wester Anderson, author of In The Arms of Angels, has expertly documented (in a new book), we have evidence of a heavenly Hand in the most wrenching crises -- whether those crises are of personal or national proportion.
That "Hand" often comes in the way of angels. When we're in need (and have been faithful to God), He sends His messengers into action.
Take Columbine, the school near Denver where students were chillingly gunned down in 1999.
The battle between good and evil was palpable. While the two young murderers were immersed in occult rock music, many of the students were active Christians who prayed their way through the catastrophe.
Afterward, recounts Anderson, one mother who lost a daughter was graced with the vision of a white glowing figure right there at the school -- and knew immediately it was not a cloud or a reflection.
She spotted it moving slowly across the windows of the old library, where the shooting -- where the murder of her child, who always invoked angels -- had occurred.
"I knew instantly that I was looking at an angel," says Dee Fleming of what she describes as an elegant angel with flowing gown and halo.
Angels. Signs. In the recent hurricanes, tabernacles have survived and in one case two churches were all that were left standing in a devastated part of Florida's panhandle, according the reports we receive. Those are also signs -- and probably orchestrated by angels.
Near Fort Pierce, Florida, where Hurricane Jeanne slammed ashore, there is Roxeanna Boyette, a resident of a mobile home that survived the onslaught, while neighbors saw their homes battered beyond recognition. "I am so lucky," she told one newspaper. "I did leave my Bible open on the table. The Lord sent His angels again."
Anderson documents similar cases. We liked the especially poignant one from Placerville, California, where years ago a woman named Mona was struggling through labor out there in the boondocks and the doctor was not showing up.
To make matters worse, two of her sons were crying for her, in need of water and motherly soothing as a storm unleashed wind and lightning outside -- causing the power to go out.
They were terrified. "Mommy! Mommy!"' they cried to Mona, whose own parents were there but stoking up the fire and preparing for the doctor.
Suddenly, reports Anderson, the boys became quiet and when the relatives were sent in to check on them, the children already had their water. They stared awestruck at something near the door. How did they get the water, Mona wanted to know (between labor pains)?
"They said the man in white gave it to them," Mona's sister explained.
After Mona's father went to check, he reported back that "when I went into their bedroom, it was lit up brighter than any light bulb. But Mona, there's no electricity on in the house."
The "man" had told the boys that by morning they would have a baby sister... and left.
It rains on the good and evil alike -- but when we pray, we have all the more chance of a miracle.
The work of heavenly messengers has been tied to everything from the bombing in Oklahoma City (in that case the premonition of a little girl) to the World Trade Center.
There are too many accounts to dismiss as figments of the imagination. And Anderson, a professional writer from the Chicago area, has long led the way in such reportage, starting with a book called Where Angels Walk that made the list of New York Times bestsellers. It is Anderson whose reports are often featured as our "story of the week."
Her new book arrives just at a time of need and we recommend it as a fascinating, credible, and very well-written look at modern wonders that so clearly demonstrate God's Presence at times when we don't think He's there.
Readers may recall the 9/11 story of a mysterious stranger. "A week after the World Trade Center explosions, word circulated that a trumpeter was playing at Ground Zero," notes Anderson. "A well-known photographer went to see for himself. In the eerie quiet of lower Manhattan, he could hear the notes as he approached a barricade.
"'The trumpeter stood in this urban canyon, illuminated by shafts of light caused by the smoke and dust.' Who was he? In a place of such intense security, how could a lone musician be allowed behind police lines?
"Looking through his lens, framing the unlikely stranger amid the rays, the photographer realized that this was the photo of a lifetime. 'But I couldn't depress the shutter,' he said. He lowered his camera in defeat. His colleagues reported the same phenomenon. Apparently, no one could snap a picture."
Such are the ways of God: letting us know He's there but with manifestations that are often fleeting. It is the test of faith.
But it also a testimony to the supernatural. Those seeking comfort or simply looking for further insights into how God works should read this book.
Those who are trying to enlighten doubters should pass it on. Those who need a lift will find plenty upon which to meditate as Anderson takes us across the country from a preacher who was miraculously protected during collapse of a bridge to a Louisiana businessman who felt the miraculous intercession of the great Archangel Michael (whose feast day is September 29)!
In Oklahoma City, a woman heading for the disaster scene -- to that federal office building destroyed by a bomb -- had a view of the city as she drove onto an overpass and what she saw made her hair stand on end.
Once more, it was a snapshot of the spiritual dimension.
"A gigantic cloud hung over the skyline, filled with hundreds of angels," reports Anderson. "She could clearly see them, all facing west, trailing long graceful wings, angels standing vigil over the ruins."
More commonly, angels appear when an individual is in trouble. There are those who survive accidents they should not have survived. There are those who are healed (often at the behest of the Archangel Raphael) despite a dire prognosis. When one woman skidded off a mountain, a beautiful woman was suddenly there to help her, even though later events -- and the position of the car, which had the driver's side half off a ledge -- made it impossible for anyone to actually have been where the mysterious helper was.
Why are so many angels around?
"Consider the unnerving increase in natural disasters," writes Anderson. "The floods, tornadoes, and wildfires that can ruin lifetimes of labor in an instant -- or the appearance of new and deadly diseases. We who were taught to maintain control over every aspect of our lives have discovered that such control is elusive, sometimes even impossible. In the past few years, nearly every institution in which we have placed our trust has faltered or collapsed, and the sense of loss can be overwhelming."
Many are poised for additional threats, says the writer -- wondering if God has simply abandoned us.
"Yet this may be precisely the time when people can truly grow and change," she notes.
Angels are always there to console (even if, as at Sodom, they may also be participants in a purification).
Mainly they are there to show us affection. Those boys in Placerville? The angel prophesied right: by the next morning they had a baby sister and all was well. "The footprints of an angel are love," notes one quote the book. "And where there is love, miraculous things can happen."
[resources: In The Arms of Angels and The Trumpet of Gabriel]
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